French and Indian Air Forces hold joint exercises in Jodhpur

The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs announces on its website that, for the first time, Indo-French air force exercise sees Rafale jets fielded on both sides for highly complex drills aimed at sharing operational experience and enhancing interoperability.

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French and Indian Air Forces hold joint exercises in Jodhpur

French Rafales involved in Indo-French Air Exercise “Garuda V” from Air Force Station Jodhpur, 2nd to 13th June 2014 (Picture source: French Air and Space Force)

A French Air and Space Force deployment has touched down at Air Force Station Jodhpur, for the joint Exercise Desert Knight-21 with the Indian Air Force, which is taking place from 20th to 24th January 2021.

Four Rafale combat jets, two Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft and an A330 Phenix multirole tanker transport aircraft manned by 170-odd French aviators are taking part in joint drills with an Indian Air Force deployment, which includes the newly-inducted Indian Rafales, as well as Mirage 2000s, and Su-30 MKI, IL-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft, AWACS and AEW&C aircraft.

The joint exercise is taking place over four days with increasingly complex drills that will enable the two air forces to share operational experience, particularly regarding Rafale jets, and learn how to operate together more effectively.

France and India have built on their longstanding air force cooperation through the tactical bilateral exercise, Garuda, held alternately in France and India, as well as other joint exercises. The two air forces have thus been mutually enriched through exchanges of best practices and acquired a high level of joint operational capabilities.

India is the first leg of the French force’s broader Skyros Deployment, running from 20th January through 5th February 2021. Its twofold aim is a demonstration of the efficacy of the French Air and Space Force in deploying swiftly to distant theatres of operation as well as enhancing interoperability and strategic ties with the countries it flies to, beginning with India, which is France’s foremost strategic partner in Asia.

After the completion of Exercise Desert Knight-21 in India, the Skyros Deployment will fly successively to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Greece before returning to France.